Wood River Valley men approach their eats adventurously, consume them copiously and convert the fuel within into all sorts of smooth operations, shenanigans and sometimes mustaches.
The Sun Valley area’s stallions love it when valley women cook for them and they tend to be totally unopposed to returning the favor, though likely with a muscled twist on the flavor, more protein and a ton more carbs. Is food a way to a valley man’s heart? Absolutely, but it’s not the only one. For most of them, though, a tasty feeding likely does provide the most direct access.
“I like to say I’m not afraid to eat flesh,” said Adam Bohrer, a seasonal free man. “Also, the valley man supports local farmers.”
Bohrer, a longtime Blaine County resident, said the typical valley man prefers meats, perhaps steering toward wild game, and also vegetables.
“A true valley man gets out there and gets his own meat, and forages,” he said. “He utilizes the land and also knows how to grow food from a garden. Basically, he takes advantage of the fact that we live in an amazing place where food actually does grow. That’s not just the valley man, that’s Idaho.”
Bohrer said that if you boiled man food down to bare essentials, it would be beer and meat.
“Because it’s going to taste good and it makes you feel good after,” he said.
Bohrer also said that if a woman were to cook him a meal, he’d want salmon with mango chutney and a salad on the side.
“That’s the best meal a woman ever cooked for me,” he said. “It was amazing. Sharing a meal with someone is probably one of the most sacred things one can do. It’s sharing in life’s sustenance.”
Scott Mason, Ketchum Grill owner and chef, said that the typical valley man’s palate is quite adventurous.
“They desire to try new things,” he said. “They like to cook as much as they like to eat. Many love that barbecue, kind of the traditional man’s cooking instrument.”
Mason said men in the area tend to like “a fairly good portion” of steak or game.
“Men like protein, darn it!” he said.
Mason said that if a woman were to cook him a meal, he’d love something hearty such as sausages and sauerkraut.
“If I go out, I’ll often get fish,” he said. “That’s not too manly, but it’s one of my favorite things. Also, really good oysters on the half-shell would be a thing I really like that’s kind of manly food.”
Tom McLean, a firefighter and paramedic captain with the Ketchum Fire Department, said he doesn’t have a very interesting diet. He eats oatmeal for breakfast, soup and a piece of fruit for lunch and, for dinner, a fresh omelet from his own chickens.
“The quintessential Wood River Valley man food is an energy bar,” he said.
McLean said that he’d like a woman to cook “something she’s excited about” for him. When it’s his turn to handle the heat, he makes veggie curry, but says his chef work is “middle ground” at best.
“I don’t think food is the way to a man’s heart,” he said. “What is the way? Being agreeable.”
But Pete Prekeges, owner of Grumpy’s in Ketchum, said food is absolutely the way to a man’s heart.
“Because there’s no better cure than a little fuel,” he said. “Fuel cures all—headaches, crankiness.”
Men want not to be told what to eat, according to Prekeges.
“As long as we’re not being told what to eat, we’ll eat anything,” he said.
Prekeges said he’d want “something exotic” if a woman were to fix him a bite because he can cook the nonexotic. He also said the defining valley man food is a Grumpy’s half-pounder or fowl burger, “but I’m biased.”
Carl Rixon, a ski coach who’s proud to be a valley man, said man food in the area would “definitely” be deer and elk.
“Self-caught of course. And Idaho potatoes, trout and morels,” he said.
Rixon said he usually hunts one elk, one deer and about 50 ducks per year. He said the “abundance” of game and forageable food is the valley’s local novelty. He also said men should be on the “see” food diet.
“He sees food and he eats it,” he said.
If a woman were to cook Rixon a meal, he said he’d like something hearty and healthy.
“That’s a good combo,” he said.
Andrew Sarda, sous-chef at Boca in Ketchum, said braised short ribs or lamb burgers are what he’d prefer if a woman offered to whip him up a meal.
“That’s in no way a coincidence with what my girlfriend’s made me,” he said.
Sarda said the “true valley man” is particular about his food and likes to eat healthily, but occasionally just likes to enjoy a feast without regard to physical wellness.
“I would say that the way to my heart, in terms of food, is something that’s coming from her heart, a meal that’s heartfelt and simple,” he said. “It’s got to mean something.”
Ed Sinnott, co-founder of the Sun Valley Harvest Festival, said a typical valley man’s food changes through life’s stages.
“It’s age driven,” he said. “The 20-year-old man food might be a beer pub, those kinds of places. Then it migrates as you get older. Maybe more home cooking when you start with your family. And family time. Then as we age even more, maybe more restaurants and food experiences all over the world.”
Sinnott said that for him, food is “very seasonal.” In the fall and winter, he likes hearty stews, but in the summer he prefers barbecue.
“My man food changes with the season,” he said. “I like it fresh. I like to know where I’m getting it from.”
Sinnott said home cooking is wonderful, but also said he likes to experience the multitude of opportunities available from the valley’s professional chefs.
Sinnott said it’s important to “know your man” if planning to cook for him, but also said he’d prefer a meal that’s new to him and has a deeper meaning to the cook.
“I wouldn’t want someone to cook me something for me,” he said. “I’d rather experience their favorite food, a family recipe, something she likes.”